I said last year that it probably wouldn’t be long before the Dum Dum Girls were playing bigger venues.  It hasn’t necessarily turned out that way.  Well, not here anyway.  But tonight’s gig at Fac 251 is certainly a lot more rammed.

It’s packed out and getting pretty bleeding warm for a mid November evening.  In fact, it’s a wonder we manage to get in while it was still evening, as the lovely Fac people always seem to see fit to let people queue along the road for an hour or so before letting them in.  Like the last gig I came to, no one really seemed to have much of a clue as to when they were going to be let in.  But, the wiser amongst us simply trotted off to one of the many bars in the immediate vicinity.  Queue?  More fool you…

The line up tonight is pretty damn good.  For the most part, quite surprising too.  A pleasant part of that surprise was finding out that one of my new musical interests, Veronica Falls, are on the bill.

Even the opening act, Retrievers, from Newcastle, far outstrip what you might expect from the usual support.  They’re tight, polished, and confident, with some top tunes.  To employ the usual pigeonholing, there’s a bit of The Kills, and The Duke Spirit, who both in turn encapsulate a plethora of female fronted groups that went before them.  And, Retrievers are really good.  It’s understandable, obviously, that many female-led acts seem to spring from the same gene pool given that there are relatively few big female figures in a still very male dominated industry.

But, tonight is far from being a musical sausage fest.  Though, there are enough dicks in the crowd.  I get the pleasure of listening to Veronica Falls while also listening to a pair of onanists barking embarrassingly loudly about what they’d like to do to the bass player, throughout the whole sodding set.  She’s a good-looking lady, I concur, but most of us have seen one before.

The band certainly impressed judging by the crowd’s reaction to them and the remarks, besides the lascivious, that were floating around between songs.  I’d had a sneaky listen to their debut album on Spotify the other week and tonight’s set sold it to me.  They practically reached into my pocket and swiped the tenner.  Hats off to them.

They recall Velvet Underground via The Vaselines, which is fairly apt given that they’re hailing mainly from Glasgow, and have relocated to New York, where it’s cooler (in terms of its cultural temperature, of course).

For the mate dragged along with me, they’re the highlight of the night. But I was a bit more reserved since the Dum Dum Girls won my affections a year or so previous when I saw them at Sound Control following the release of I Will Be.

I was hit by a strange ambivalence when I heard the new album, Only In Dreams.  It sounded for me a little too polished and clipped.  The vocals seemed to be a bit high in the mix whereas I felt the instruments weren’t given due prominence.  It sounded a bit too pop.

Tonight, however, all their material hits the mark.  As always the Dum Dum Girls appear as one of those bands that command attention without really having to do much.  They’re a powerful presence – even strangely imposing.

They open up with ‘He Gets Me High’ from this year’s EP of the same name and I’m happy to feel any doubts about them fizzle out.  Then they have a bit of an equipment malfunction, which sees a man spend just a bit too long messing with one of the mic stands while they stand around looking cool.  What the hell is he doing?  Then, they’re straight back into it with ‘Catholicked’ from an earlier EP.

It’s quite a varied set with a good mix of tunes from their back catalogue.  The new tunes laid out are some of the stand out tracks from the album, notably ‘In My Head’, and ‘Wasted Away’.  Like a few of the tracks on the album there’s definitely evidence of a Smiths influence, with Marr-like guitar jangliness.

They end the set with a nod to Manchester and a rendition of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’.  It’s one of my favourite Smiths tunes and they do it justice.  I’m happy.

Then, after leaving the stage for a minute or so they nip back on for one more, “whether you want one or not”, and perform ‘Coming Down.’  Like other songs from Only In Dreams, you can’t avoid the feeling that the song is very personal, in relation to the passing of Dee Dee’s mother, and I wonder whether I can notice a slight change in her performance.  People seem pretty awestruck and there are whoops and cheers at the vocal climax.

It felt like more of an event tonight than the usual gig.  The line up was tight, with each of the acts holding their own.  It seemed for once as though they were on fairly equal footing, too.  I leave having unearthed a new band to check out in Retriever, a new potential favourite in Veronica Falls, while Dum Dum Girls won me over again.  Result.  Not sure about Fac 251, though…